Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, May 03, 2013


Nation states sometimes have trouble maintaining the legitimacy of their governments and regimes. It's even more difficult for a supranational organization like the EU.

To me it's distressing that the dangers of emotional nationalism that inspired the creation of the EU are apparent now as threats to the survival of international cooperation. Do your students of European history recognize history repeating itself?

Crisis for Europe as trust hits record low
Public confidence in the European Union has fallen to historically low levels in the six biggest EU countries, raising fundamental questions about its democratic legitimacy more than three years into the union's worst ever crisis, new data shows.

After financial, currency and debt crises, wrenching budget and spending cuts, rich nations' bailouts of the poor, and surrenders of sovereign powers over policymaking to international technocrats, Euroscepticism is soaring to a degree that is likely to feed populist anti-EU politics and frustrate European leaders' efforts to arrest the collapse in support for their project…

The findings… represent a nightmare for Europe's leaders, whether in the wealthy north or in the bailout-battered south, suggesting a much bigger crisis of political and democratic legitimacy…

EU leaders are aware of the problem, utterly at odds over what to do about it, and have yet to come up with any coherent policy proposals addressing the mismatch between the pooling of economic and fiscal powers and the democratic mandate deemed necessary to underpin such radical policy shifts.

José Manuel Barroso, the European commission president, said… the European "dream" was under threat from a "resurgence of populism and nationalism" across the EU…

Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk… [said] "We can't escape this dilemma: how do you get a new model of sovereignty so that limited national sovereignty in the EU is not dominated by the biggest countries like Germany… "

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At 6:01 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Local elections: Nigel Farage hails UKIP's 'remarkable' night

"UKIP leader Nigel Farage has hailed early gains in council elections across England as "remarkable" for the party.

"UKIP has won 42 seats so far and is averaging 26% of the vote in the wards where it is standing.

"Mr Farage said it put his party in a "very strong position" in the run-up to the next general election.

"The Conservatives have lost control of two councils, but retained five others, while Labour made modest gains in the Midlands and the south of England… "

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

European attitudes toward the EU

Alan Carter, the one person I know of in the UK who reads this blog, wrote to point out two things: the success of UKIP in local elections (that I posted as a comment earlier and that the Eurobarometer Poll results from last fall that weren't as pessimistic as presented in The Guardian article.

We should also remind ourselves that the "democratic deficit" of the EU regime has long been a matter of concern to scholars and observers.

Here are some of the headlines from October's Eurobarometer:

"An absolute majority of Europeans do not think that it would be easier for their country to face the future outside the EU" (p. 49)

"Satisfaction with the way that democracy works, nationally and in the EU, continues to decline." (p. 52)

"A narrow majority of Europeans feel that 'their voice counts in their country', while a large majority feel that their vote does not count in the EU." (p. 57)

"Over half of Europeans believe that globalization is an opportunity for growth; two-thirds believe that their country cannot cope with the negative effects of globalization along." (p. 60)

"The continuous deterioration of trust… of the European Union has come to a halt. Standing at 57%, distrust has fallen by three percentage point since spring 2012… " (p. 73)

"The overall image of the EU has deteriorated very slightly in this survey…" (p.77)

"The EU continues to appear democratic and modern to an absolute majority of Europeans, and protective to a relative majority." (p.78)

"An absolute majority of Europeans (51%) now consider the EU to be 'technocratic'… [and] a large majority of Europeans do not regard the EU as efficient." (p. 80)

"More than four out of ten Europeans are in favour of developing the European Union into a federation of nation-states…" (p.90)

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Typo alert!

In the fourth quote ["Over half of Europeans believe that globalization is an opportunity for growth; two-thirds believe that their country cannot cope with the negative effects of globalization along." (p. 60)], the last word should be ALONE.


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